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Race begins to extend DAR powers to secure lands Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/634921/race-begins-to-extend-dar-powers-to-secure-lands

inquirerBAGUIO CITY—The race has begun to pass a measure extending the authority of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to subpoena landowners and secure lands meant for agrarian reform, the chair of the House committee on agrarian reform said here on Monday.

Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. said he sponsored House Bill No. 4592, which restores DAR’s power to issue notices of coverage (NOC) but which has faced roadblocks from lobby groups in the Visayas.

He said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. promised to push the bill into plenary discussions this month, noting that President Aquino had certified it as a priority bill.

The DAR’s ability to issue NOC lapsed on June 30, as prescribed by Republic Act No. 9700 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (Carper).

Formal notifications

The NOC are formal notifications which allow the DAR to begin the compulsory acquisition of private lots identified for land reform. These notices would be necessary once the agency starts acquiring agrarian land in the Visayas provinces.

Baguilat said the DAR continues to process lots already issued with NOC, as well as lots surrendered to the government which do not require NOC.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes had said the agency needs to acquire close to 800,000 hectares, many of which are in the Visayas.

“It has to be passed immediately if the government follows a timeline imposed by the President to complete the agrarian reform program began by his mother (the late former President Corazon Aquino) at the end of his term in 2016,” he said.

Baguilat said lobby groups have been pressuring lawmakers to block the new measure “because they believed Carper has already expired and should no longer be revived.”

The 1987 Constitution requires the government to pursue land reform, which justifies the continuation of DAR services, De los Reyes told the Inquirer here in June.

Parallel measure

Baguilat said the committee would also address a parallel measure filed by the Makabayan bloc in Congress, which expands agrarian land conversions to include commercial farms, and government and military reservations.

If the Makabayan version wins support, it would be a new agrarian reform program complete with new targets, he said. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

Source: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/634921/race-begins-to-extend-dar-powers-to-secure-lands

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